Strategic Design for mobility: Study of a methodology for the analysis of user behavior and choices regarding mobility

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Samuele MorvilloSalvatore Di DioBenedetto InzerilloDaniele RonsivalleLa Gennusa Maria

Abstract: The study of user behavior and mobility choices is a crucial aspect in the design of innovative transportation services that genuinely cater to people's needs, placing the user and their senses at the core, developing services that address not only the needs but also the sensemaking of individuals (Pennington, 2016). To achieve this goal, the design team developed a strategy for mapping qualitative and quantitative data, including the identification of user needs and frustrations In the collection of qualitative data, the method introduced by Cooper in 1999 known as Personas is employed (Cooper, 1999). This method serves to gather input for designers, compelling them to take into account the specific needs of users. Originally utilized in software development, this method is now increasingly applied in the creation of products and services. It can also be leveraged in the design of public services and within the realm of mobility (Siddall, 2011). Personas are constructed through meticulous observation and subsequently (Turner, D.W., 2010), the conduct of a significant number of user interviews. These insights are then translated into personas by identifying common needs, frustrations, dreams, and fears(Çalışkan 2012).The objective was to create a scalable approach to easily understand local needs, fears, trends, and opportunities related to mobility systems, walkability, road desirability, and services (Dogan, T., 2018).This research was conducted in collaboration with the laboratory of the Master's Degree program in Design at Palermo University, within the scope of territorial development strategy and services.The user research analysis was divided into several simple steps to be easily executed with the aid of guidelines, incorporating methodologies utilized in design, such as Design Thinking, and in urban planning disciplines, like participatory interviews and observations (Carrasco, Pizzaro 2022). The project commenced with an analysis of the context of two specific mobility hubs in Palermo, namely, two stations within the city's metro system, which are major and complex nodes, serving different user bases and allowing for interaction with a large number of users (Turner, D.W., 2010). Alongside the contextual analysis, the next step involved actual participatory observation, establishing discussions with users in the areas, and identifying potential users who utilize them most frequently, developing semi-structured, empathic interviews aimed at identifying their needs and the reasons why they chose to take that route or use the station (Kalbach, 2020).The designers also took photographs, marking the most interesting nodes, strengths, and weaknesses according to the users, and analyzed them to create proto-empathy maps using a five-senses format and proto-personas (Califano et al. 2022).The aim is to develop qualitative maps of users' daily experiences, referred to as "User Journey Maps" as well as empathy maps, where their feelings are traced to identify needs and frustrations (Tharon, H., 2014).Subsequently, these maps could be employed to delve deeper into the urban and mobility design process (Gothelf, Schloesser, 2023).The project is committed to making this methodology scalable, showcasing its results and design contributions to facilitate its adaptability in other contexts within the same city of Palermo or in other Italian cities. The goal is to provide a well-defined, phased methodology for developing the replicability of the approach, thus enabling the creation of personas in any location we wish to analyze in mobility services.In conclusion, the strategy developed by the Design team provided valuable insights into user behavior and mobility choices (Sheller, 2011). The use of Design tools, such as empathy maps and personas, contributed to creating profiles that could be used to deepen the design process, as well as to serve as a testing phase. The combination of methodologies was successful in achieving a new level of mapping to be integrated into the mobility service design processes. The methodology was designed to be easily scalable in other contexts, which could prove invaluable in the future of the research project.

Keywords: Urban Design, Design methodology, Design Thinking, Urban Planning, Walkability, sensemaking, Personas

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1004523

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